Amid the avalanche of news of the last few days, marked by the second wave of repression against the Catalan independence movement and the adoption of tough measures to try to control the expansion of the coronavirus, there is a story which not made the impact it deserves in the context of the current severe economic crisis. That is, the decision by the government of Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias to raise the budget for the Spanish royal family by 6.9% for the year 2021 has avoided any major criticism, since people are, of course, concerned about other things. The funding will total 8.4 million euros in 2021, after an annual increase of half a million euros, even despite the removal of a significant spending item, as Spain's fugitive emeritus king, Juan Carlos I, has been left off the list of those who will receive funds from the government budget.
It's difficult to countenance that in the last budget passed by Spain's Congress, those of 2017 and 2018 - when Cristóbal Montoro was the minister responsible, since these are the first national accounts of the post-PP era - the increases were 0.56% and 0.87% respectively. Far removed from the generosity that the left has shown this year, especially if two things are taken into account: the collapse of the Spanish economy and the fact that the royal family has been seriously eroded in recent months by the corruption cases which have come to light and have seriously affected the monarchy. One fact in particular should not go unnoticed: in the budget presented by Sánchez in 2019 but which was not passed, the estimated increase was 1.4%. It would be worthwhile to be told how it is possible that now, with left-wing Podemos in government, the increase is to quadruple.
This news, together with the scandalous event held in Madrid attended by a hundred people from what could be called the elites of the capital, with the presence of four members of the PSOE-Podemos government, including the health minister, Salvador Illa, openly sends society the message that there is very little that can be done to regenerate some patterns of behaviour as the system ends up devouring itself, along the way also losing any conception of the differences in the ways of doing things between a party of the right and one from the left.
What is happening in these specific instances, in the budget and the VIPs event, can also be extended to the judicial repression now that a new front has opened up, in this case focusing on a supposed plot from within pro-independence support in civil society. So far we’ve seen a lot more smoke than fire, something that shouldn’t surprise us either, in light of previous experiences that have ended up as nothing.
It is not the first time that this space has voiced calls to set an example and for the need for measures to be proportionate and understandable to public opinion. There was, as expected, no resignation among the VIP party attendees who broke all the health protocols, starting with that of avoiding gatherings of more than six people. A European commissioner resigned in August for a similar situation in Ireland and everyone regarded it as the normal response, but it must be, as they always say, that "Spain is different".
In this context of huge suffering for society as a whole in an extremely difficult year, with a huge increase in redundancies, workers on furlough schemes, businesses closed, and the self-employed and SMEs up to their necks in problems, it is not tolerable that there is not enough sensitivity to discard an increase in the Spanish royal family's public budget allocation. And yet, later, there is surprise expressed about the growing separation between society and politicians, and about the low, low poll ratings which the latter continue to receive.